Disgraced Alex Murdaugh, a lawyer in South Carolina, was found guilty of killing his wife and son in 2021 in a brutal way. The verdict was read Thursday evening at the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro.
After only three hours of deliberation, the jury met again at 7 p.m. local time, and Murdaugh sat in the stand with a pale face. The foreman told them that they had all come to the same decision, which they then gave to judge Clifton Newman.
As the two guilty verdicts for murder were read out, Murdaugh, 54, did not move or say anything. He was also found guilty of two counts of having a weapon while doing something illegal.
Sitting a few rows back, Murdaugh’s remaining living son, Buster, 26, cradled his chin in his hands and also betrayed no apparent emotion.
After the verdict was read, Judge Newman told the court, “On the homicide charges, the minimum sentence is 30 years and the maximum is life in prison.”
He then said that the sentence would be given on Friday at 9:30. Buster did not stand up for his father as Murdaugh was led out of the courtroom.
The shocking verdict comes after a six-week trial that painted two very different pictures of Murdaugh: one as a cold-blooded killer and the other as a clumsy, guilty-ridden drug addict who loved his family and would never hurt them.
On June 7, 2021, Maggie Murdaugh, 52, and her 22-year-old son Paul were shot dead by the kennels at the family’s Islandton hunting lodge. The story was so shocking that it got attention from all over the country.
During their four weeks of testimony, prosecutors said that Murdaugh, the son of a famous legal family, had killed them both to hide his many financial crimes, which were about to be found out by his business partners because of his out-of-control drug use.
The state showed upsetting bodycam footage of Murdaugh standing just a few feet away from the bullet-ridden bodies of his family members.
As soon as the police arrived, Murdaugh could be heard trying to blame the shooting on the threats Paul had been getting after a drunken boat crash in 2019 that killed his friend Mallory Beach. He later repeated this claim on the stand.
Creighton Watters, the lead prosecutor, also told the jury that Murdaugh cried and said, “I did him so bad!” when he saw pictures of his son’s mangled body. Watters based this on an interview tape from three days after the murders.
A forensics expert said that there is evidence that Paul was shot twice with a shotgun. One of the shots was close enough to his head to completely separate his brain from his skull.
Later, Murdaugh’s former law partner, who was a defence witness, said that he found a piece of the troubled son’s skull “the size of a baseball” at the scene. The jury then went to the scene before the defence rested its case.
Even though Murdaugh’s defence team argued against the state’s claims about the tearful confession, Murdaugh himself admitted on the stand that he lied to investigators about where he was on the night of the murders.
Even though he said at first that he was visiting his mother, who had advanced Alzheimer’s disease, at the time of the killings, Murdaugh testified that he was the voice Paul heard in a Snapchat video at 8:45 p.m., just five minutes before experts think the young man and his mother were killed.
Murdaugh said, though, that he went to see his mother after that and didn’t find his family’s bodies until he went back to the kennels more than an hour later.
He frequently sobbed on the stand, and blamed his pattern of deceit on a years-long drug addiction, the same struggle that allegedly drove him to pilfer funds from clients and defraud his family’s law firm.
Buster had stood by his father during the trial and testified for the defense last month saying Murdaugh was “destroyed” and “heartbroken” by Maggie and Paul’s deaths.
In addition to the murder convictions, Murdaugh also faces trial over dozens of alleged financial crimes that could total over 700 years behind bars, Law&Crime reported.